Movie Review: Pitch PerfectPosted: January 4, 2013
This movie proves that even a tried and tested formula like a singing competition movie can yield great results if it’s well executed in terms of music, performance and humour.
The plot follows Beca (Anna Kendrick), a bit of a loner who starts at college. She’s getting a free ride because her dad works there but she has no real interest in being there and wants to move to LA where she can pursue her dream of becoming a music producer. She isolates herself from the rest of her fellow students apart from Jesse (Skylar Astin), a goofy guy who volunteers at the campus radio station with her.
Her Dad offers a deal where he’ll help her move to California if she at least gives college a proper try and joins one activity or club. Having been noticed singing in the shower by the slightly manic Chloe (Brittany Snow), Beca auditions for the Belles, an all female a cappella group who had previously disgraced themselves when their new leader Aubrey (Anna Camp) vomited during the national championship final.
Beca joins the group, which given the embarrassment has fallen from it’s former glamorous ways to accept a slightly more diverse line-up including the loud mouthed Aussie “Fat” Amy (Rebel Wilson). Aubrey takes it very seriously and tries to maintain order and keep things the same as before, leading her to butt heads with Beca, who feels they would be better served by adopting a more modern and exciting style, drawing on her own skills at creating mash ups.
One of the rules of the Belles is that there can be no fraternizing with the Treblemakers, the all male group on campus and their major rivals. Jesse, who went to auditions to support his friend winds up joining the group, which causes more tension between Beca and Aubrey.
Can the girls learn to get along and work together? Can they reach the final and redeem themselves? And will Beca break the rules and get it on with Jesse?
The answers are fairly obvious, but to sound like a hippy “it’s not about the journey not the destination” and this is definitely a fun ride.
The musical numbers are well done, and some of the reworking of songs are pretty cool, particularly when Beca launches into Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” at the riff-off, and the final performance is pretty awesome. I really liked the a cappella style and they’re handled well, being polished and entertaining offerings.
The film handles the rather lame world of a cappella rather well, poking fun at it and the obsession it generates in people but still ensuring that it portrays them in an entertaining and impressive way. It reminded me a little of how cheerleading is portrayed in one of my all time guilty pleasure movies Bring It On.
But what really carries the film is the script, which is extremely funny and the wonderful performances. Aside from a couple of gross out moments the film mainly relies on it’s dialogue to get the laughs and it really pays off, it’s chock full of great lines and there are some nice touches, including the incredibly softly spoken Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) who throughout whispers some pretty surreal, dark lines which got a lot of laughs.
The film has this really sly, sarky sense of humour and there are a few little flirtations with darker gags. It’s a great balancing act between this sense of humour and the fairly lighthearted, almost cheesy music.
I know some might think “So far, so Glee” something which the film makes a nod towards by having one of the minor characters (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse who with this goes 6-0 in terms of good films in my book) make a veiled dig at the show.
I used to have a soft spot for Glee, but this film is definitely better. The reason is that the film has genuine liking and warmth towards it’s characters, whereas by the end of season 2 of Glee none of the characters were that likable and you were kind of rooting for Sue to destroy them all.
Here there’s a great deal of affection. Yes, the Treblemakers’ leader is a douchebag but he’s the film’s antagonist so it makes sense, but other than that there’s warmth for all the characters even the slightly more one-note supporting players.
Anna Kendrick is great in the lead, I’ve seen her in a couple of films and she’s always impressed me (she was one of the few good things about last year’s What To Expect When You’re Expecting). She manages to capture Beca’s standoffish nature and the chip on her shoulder in a way that never becomes irritating to the audience. Yes, there are times when she flies off the handle and you think “come on!” but it never goes too far and always feels natural for the character to respond in this way, and Kendrick ensures we never lose empathy for the character.
She gives a spunky, funny performance and does a good job of showing the tough cookie slowly coming out of her shell and showing her softer side to the other characters.
The rest of the group are all done well, and I especially think Brittany Snow and Anna Camp deserve mentions. Both play the preppy older members of the Belles but make their characters extremely likable. Snow plays her role with a kind of mad intensity layered over a rather dippy, sweet girl and Camp playing Beca’s rival does a good job in managing to make Aubrey sympathetic and does a good job in capturing the character’s frantic attempts to cling to control.
But the stand out is Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. From her first appearance onwards she steals the whole movie, getting all the best lines and having this wonderful comic presence and timing. One of the things I loved about the role was that despite getting a few laughs from Amy’s own swaggering confidence the film never pokes fun at her for her weight and she gives herself her own nickname. Wilson’s wit and confidence actually makes a pretty cool mix and she’s my new slightly offbeat crush.
Wilson’s had a few amusing bit parts in movies like What To Expect When You’re Expecting and Bridesmaids, but here she has more to sink her teeth into and she seizes the opportunity to do more. I can’t wait to see more of her in the future.
This is a female heavy film, and the guys get a pretty shoddy deal although as the romantic lead Skylar Astin is superb, he’s genuinely funny and likable as Jesse and has this extremely amiable goofy charm. The character is pretty much textbook love interest material but he pulls it off extremely well and I got a little bit annoyed that it took Beca so long to let her defenses down, as he was one charming dude.
All in all this is a very well made, extremely funny and highly entertaining movie with a few great performances and lots of good gags. The music is awesome as well.
Verdict: Kendrick gives a fine performance in the lead and the movie succeeds in getting the tone exactly right and being blessed with a funny script which raises it above it’s sometimes predictable plot. The music numbers are lots of fun and the script has some great lines. Worth seeing for Wilson’s scene stealing supporting role alone. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.